In others, the stories act more like windows, allowing them to learn about new life experiences or cultures and helping them build understanding and empathy for the lives of those around them. Diverse books can also be windows as mirrors. By reading about diverse characters who, on the outside, seem nothing like them, children can see that others are actually very similar to them in many ways. They can find parts of themselves in these characters.
Many people are underrepresented in children’s books, though strides are being taken. Diverse books can help kids relate, not only to the characters, but to those around them.
Relating to Characters Who Are Like You
When reading, we all want to be able to relate to the characters in the book. Unfortunately, there are many people who have trouble finding books that allow them to do so due to a significant lack of diversity, from characters with disabilities to characters of different sexual orientations, religions, and races.
There’s no doubt that we need diverse books. All children should be able to identify with the stories, the characters, and the communities that are represented in the books that they read. All children deserve to find books that help them build images of who they are and who they could be.
Diverse books aim to place marginalized and underrepresented persons and communities in stories, so more kids can find themselves in the books they read.
Relating to Those Who Aren’t Like You
Diverse books don’t just help more children relate to characters who are like them, however. They also help kids relate to people of other races, cultures, and communities. They help kids learn what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes, such as what it’s like to have a different culture or a physical or mental disabilities. Diverse books allow children to expand their horizons, which is something everyone can benefit from.
By exploring diverse characters in children’s books, kids can better understand others in the world around them. They can better understand that people who are different from them are still full and complex human beings, and they can better realize that these seemingly different people are actually quite similar to them in many ways.
Helping to Start Discussions
Diverse children’s books are important tools for starting conversations with children about differences and disabilities, both inside of the classroom and out. They provide a starting point for teachers and parents to teach children about global awareness and inclusion. They can also provide positive messages and images about those who are different, help develop understanding and awareness, and help promote positive attitudes, acceptance, and respect for those differences.